Many every day and household products that we all use regularly are usually labelled with obscure scientific terms in the ingredients lists. This can be true for beauty products, cleaning supplies, processed foods, and more. Words and phrases such as ‘natural and artificial flavours’ and ‘fragrances’ are used as umbrella terms to hide ingredients. This results in the general public having to trust that the products we are consuming are safe when sold to customers from reputable shops.
Therefore, we as the public can constantly come into contact with tens of thousands of potentially dangerous chemicals. Such chemicals can lead to adverse health effects which we must pay attention to and be cautious of.
Below are five common chemicals we should try to avoid and some safe alternatives:
Phthalates are common chemicals often found in cleaning products, plastics, laundry detergents, beauty products, and more. Research has shown that phthalates can disturb the endocrine system, which circulates hormones regulating the body, and as a result can harm the reproductive system. In order to minimise human exposure to phthalates, avoiding plastic containers is one recommended method. To do this, reheat food in glass and buy food without pesticides. Additionally, using lotions and beauty products that use organic ingredients can also reduce risk of exposure to phthalates.
Pesticides, Herbicides and Fungicides
Many non-organic fruits and vegetables in the supermarket are covered in pesticides. Pesticides can have adverse health effects on the human body such as cancer and farmworkers are exposed to high amounts of pesticides. The best way to avoid them is to buy organic foods. When growing your own foods in your garden, try to use organic methods to control pests rather than using chemical interventions.
Personal Care Chemicals
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) states that there are 12 chemicals used commonly in cosmetics products which are harmful. Avoiding harmful chemicals in beauty and personal care products can be challenging but basic research can allow you to become confident in the safety of a product. You can use the EWG website which includes a database where you can investigate the safety of products. Buying products with natural and ethically sourced ingredients can also reduce the risk of health adverse chemicals.
PFAS is a class of 4,700 chemicals which have submerged into the environment so heavily that PFOA, a chemical, is found in the blood of 98% of Americans. When these chemicals are built up in the body, research has shown they can cause health problems such as disrupted regulatory systems, developmental issues and cancer. Business Insider suggests PFAS can be found in fast food wrappers, microwavable popcorn bags and hairspray, just to name a few items. In order to avoid these chemicals, you can find alternatives to hair care products and make your own popcorn.
Flame retardants have helped the stop of many fires, but they are also extremely toxic. Flame retardant chemicals can be found in furniture, electronics, baby toys and much more. They have been linked to cancer, developmental issues and hormone disruption. To minimise flame retardant exposure, you can scan labels and research if it contains any. Next, you can deep clean your house which will remove any residue of flame retardants in dust and you can dispose of old foam products.